Nostalgia: A yearning for the past in an often idealized form; the state of being homesick; a wistful longing to return to a past period or irrecoverable condition… the dictionary definitions of nostalgia don’t sound very appealing: who wants to be some wishy washy person who lives in the past? And quite often a wishy washy person who lives in a past which doesn’t exist. We all remember rolling our eyes at stories told by our parents and grandparents of a time when “you could leave your doors and windows open when you went to work and came home to find a banquet waiting for you.” Of course if you tried that today you’d be lucky to still find a carton of milk in your refrigerator – providing they hadn’t made off with your refrigerator in the first place!
I like to think of myself as a modern missy who moves with the times and rolls with the changes but come on – who doesn’t get a little sentimental and wistful at times? Who doesn’t come over all warm and fuzzy when they catch a re-run of a tv show they used to watch with their mum after school? Who doesn’t feel gooey when they bite into a cookie that tastes just like the ones Grandma used to make? I know I bubble over with excitement when I come across my teen crushes who used to adorn my walls, and my friends and I are always laughing about stories about our school days – which admittedly are a lot more in the distant past than we’d like to admit! Anything that reminds us of our childhood, teenage years and early adulthood immediately transports us to a time when things were simpler, less stressful, and more fun – or so we like to think anyway.
But whatever the past may or may not have been, anything that makes you happy and lighthearted cannot be a bad thing. That’s why I don’t regard nostalgia as sentimental hogwash but yummy and warming comfort food to enliven an often tired and weary soul. And when you think that the word is derived from the Greek nostos meaning to return home, you realise how apt it is. Especially for me; as a newly married Brit chick who had relocated to the States soon after our wedding, I had a yearning not just for times gone by but all things English that remind me of the place in which I grew up. The we returned to England, and I started yearning for all things American that reminded us of the fun times we had in the States! Now we’re back in the States and we’re restarting this cycle all over again!
Don’t get me wrong – I like the here and now; I like where I am at this stage in my life. But if there was a time machine which could transport you back to a simpler time for an hour or so, then I’m so in that thing! The past is great but the best in life is yet to come… have fun reminiscing!